Affected families demand fair compensation for lands acquired for highway expansion in Uttarakhand

Reported by

Urvashi Mahtolia

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Radhika Chatterjee

Updated by

Published on

July 21, 2022

July 21, 2022

Updated on

July 21, 2022

Location of Conflict

Haldwani

Lalquan to Kathgodam stretch of the project (NH 87)

Nainital

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Roads

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

5000

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

68

ha

Starting Year

2012

State

Uttarakhand

Sector

Infrastructure

On 4th July 2012, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway issued a gazette notification for the proposed acquisition of land for four-laning National Highway 87 (NH-87). The four-laning proposed is for the section that stretches from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh to Kathgodam via Rudrapur in Uttarakhand. The INR 1335 crore project, spanning 93 km, will be covering towns such as Rampur, Bilaspur, Pantnagar, Rudrapur, Haldwani, and Kathgodam. The project is expected to shorten the journey from Delhi to Nainital and improve road infrastructure by linking famous tourist destinations like Nainital, Ranikhet, and Kausani.

The conflict started after a notification was published in 2012 under the provisions of the National Highways Act, 1956, announcing the union government’s intention to acquire land for the highway's expansion. In 2013, two PILs were filed in the Uttarakhand High Court alleging that the land proposed for the acquisition was more than what was required for making it a four-lane road. The petitioners argued that NH-87 was only 20 metres wide at other stretches, but for the part that crosses through the petitioners' land, a requirement of 60 metres had been made for acquisition. They also claimed they were not given a hearing for raising objections as required under law. The High Court disposed off the two PILs and directed the Special Land Acquisition Officer (SLAO)/ Competent Authority (Nainital) to address the petitioners’ objections.

In 2014, the government published a notice inviting claims for compensation to be paid to the landowners. By 2018, the SLAO published a notice stating the rate of compensation to be paid to landowners. Subsequently a writ petition was filed in the Supreme Court in the same year, by a few individuals and Rashtriya Rajmarg Utpidan Virodhi Sangarsh Samiti (RRUVSS), a local civil society organisation. They represented residents of 17 villages between Lalqua to Kathgodam, including more than 5000 landholders. The petitioners argued that the compensation amount determined by the state was lower than both the prevailing market and circle rates, considering sale deeds of recent transactions. It was alleged that the compensation amount was calculated according to a pre-determined formula, which ignored the demands of the landowners completely. They further alleged that state agencies were trying to acquire large tracts of land to widen and construct roads, which would later be handed to builders at higher rates for commercial purposes. The Supreme Court however, disposed of this petition with the suggestion that petitioners should approach the Uttarakhand High Court instead.

One of the petitioners, Mr. Chandra Prakash Dal, said, “It has been more than eight years; we have spent a lot of money on the matter. But the government won’t listen to us. But we will fight for our land and do our duty. Now the fight is for fair compensation, but we know nothing will come out of it,” he added.

According to Mr. Dal and a few other affected parties, as of now, the land has been acquired for the project. Some landowners have accepted the compensation provided by the government after waiting for the legal battles to deliver justice. Others are still embroiled in legal struggles, mainly in the District Court, fighting for fair compensation.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for more compensation than promised

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

State agencies should determine the compensation on the basis of current market rates.

Region Classification

Urban and Rural

Type of Land

Common and Private

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

1335

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

2016

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

National Highways Act, 1956
Section 3A [Union government to declare intention to acquire land by way of notification under this Act]; Section 3C [Affected parties may file written objections before competent authority. Competent Authority must give objectors a chance to be heard];
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Section 105(1) [The 2013 Act is not to be applicable in cases where land is acquired under laws specified in the Fourth Schedule.] Section 105(3) [Even for land acquisition proceedings initiated under other acts from the Fourth Schedule, compensation will be determined by this Act.] Fourth Schedule, Entry 7 [National Highways Act, 1956 included in list of exempted legislations]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

Yes

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Incorrect estimation of compensation

Non-implementation/violation of LARR Act

Controversial land acquisition by the government

Non-consultation with stakeholders

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Supreme Court: Disposed, High Court: Disposed, DM Court: Pending

Case Number

WPMS No.1173 of 2013, WPMS No.1014 of 2013 (Uttarakhand High Court). Writ Petition (Civil) No. 261/2018 (Supreme Court)

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Two writ petitions were filed in Uttarakhand High Court in 2013, challenging land acquisition notifications issued under the National Highways Act, 1956. The Court disposed of both petitions in 2013, remanding the matter to the Special Land Acquisition Officer/ Competent Authority (Nainital) to dispose of the petitioners’ objection within one month. A writ petition was then filed in Supreme Court in 2018, challenging the constitutionality of various provisions of the National Highways Act, 1956. The Supreme Court however directed the Petitioners to approach the High Court under Article 226. Land owners have now filed representations before the relevant District Courts. The proceedings are ongoing

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Advocacy (for inclusion in courts)

Objections as part of official procedures

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Ministry of Road Transport and Highway, National Highway Authority of India, Special Land Acquisition Officer

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Rashtriya Rajmarg Utpidan Virodhi Sangarsh Samiti

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
Part of the land acquired for NH.87 in Gaujajali village.

Part of the land acquired for NH.87 in Gaujajali village.

Image Credit:  

Urvashi Mahtolia

Part of the land acquired for NH.87 in Gaujajali village.

Part of the land acquired for NH.87 in Gaujajali village.

Image Credit:  

Urvashi Mahtolia

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